After a closed door team meeting by Ted Nolan, the Sabres were set for a battle against one of the league’s best teams, but a late Lightning goal gave them their seventh consecutive loss.
Steven Stamkos completed a two-on-one rush as he roofed a shot over Michal Neuvirth with 5:18 to go in the third period, giving the Lightning a late one goal lead. Tampa Bay held on for a 2-1 victory at Amalie Arena.
The Sabres closed out their four game road trip empty-handed, finishing with zero of a possible eight points.
The score of the game was not indicative of how close the play on the ice was. The Lighting controlled the flow and applied heavy pressure throughout the night. Tampa Bay finished with 47 shots, while the Sabres only fired 21 on goal.
The Sabres were massively outshot in the second period as the Lightning peppered Neuvirth with 27 shots while Buffalo mustered just five. Neuvirth stopped them all and came up with numerous big saves, including a breakaway save on Nikita Kucherov and this sliding glove stop on Brett Connolly in the second period.
“We couldn’t contain their speed, they got us running around on a number of shifts, we couldn’t catch our breath,” said head coach Ted Nolan. “[Neuvirth] was sensational. That one save, the whole building thought it was in. He kept us in the game.”
“He [Connolly] made a great fake and I bought it the whole way but I kept my eye on the puck…what a save,” Neuvirth said. So close. We were working hard. Tough to swallow right now but thought we gave it our best.
Valtteri Filppula connected for his eighth goal of the season just a few minutes into the game, putting the Lightning ahead early on.
Playing a man down, Patrick Kaleta found Cody McCormick all alone in front of the net and the Sabres forward buried it. McCormick’s goal was his first of the season and the first shorthanded goal for Buffalo this season. He hadn’t scored since November 5th, 2013.
“Neuvy played one hell of a game for us, he deserved a win,” Patrick Kaleta said. “Our belief was better this game, but a loss is a loss, we got to be better.”
The Sabres will head home for the next three games, hosting the Red Wings on Tuesday, the Wild on Thursday and the Flyers next Saturday. All of them are scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be seen on MSG.